The Growth & Development of Sweet Pea

One of the many things our agency wanted us to consider pre-IVF was what we would do if our child was determined to have health issues, specifically Down Syndrome. Would we terminate the pregnancy? Would we want to give the child up for adoption? Our agency wanted everything out on the table ahead of time so that, ideally, there would be no surprises on either side. We were made aware of the fact that even if we wanted an abortion, Elle could decide against it and carry to term. She would also have the legal right to terminate the pregnancy at any time and for any reason. While our contract with her may state that she is unable to do so, her legal rights would ultimately trump our own. Elle was even told that she would be given “first dibs” for the child should we ever decide that we were no longer interested in raising him/her.

As far as Kyle and I are concerned, there is absolutely no reason we would ever choose to terminate or walk away from any potential child (not looking to start arguments here; this was our personal decision). We are so adamant about this that Kyle even tried to remove the section of the contract that gave us the right to an abortion until the agency demanded it be reinstated. We signed the final draft anyway, knowing we would never invoke it, but I am still uncomfortable when I think about having the wording in there.

For some reason, the possibility that our child could have Down Syndrome was never really a concern for me. Not because I didn’t think it could happen, but because I didn’t feel as though it would be the end of the world. We would be grateful to have and love any child regardless of their abilities or disabilities. And while we would admittedly have a lot to learn about parenting a child with special needs, it wasn’t something I feared. Sure, there is a part of me that would grieve on behalf of a son or daughter that might not be able to have certain experiences, and I understand that life would not be as we might have imagined it, but I felt like it was something we could get through. Furthermore, I understand that health at birth does not indicate a life without health issues. Accidents happen and diseases can develop at a later time. I, myself, am proof of that. So for us, we felt that committing to getting pregnant meant also committing to any potential child.

About 6 weeks or so into the pregnancy, we were presented with options for prenatal testing. We felt strongly that any invasive procedures that came with a risk to the baby were not worth pursuing, and Elle was willing to defer to whatever we felt was best. However, the doctor’s office did recommend that we do NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing), which can determine a high or low risk factor simply from a blood draw. It didn’t change the way we felt about anything, but we realized that it would give us time to prepare if the results came back abnormal. We were given information on a specific blood test for Elle that would analyze Sweet Pea’s DNA without any risk involved, and an appointment was made.

But, when Elle went in for the test, she was told that it couldn’t be done because she was not related to the child she’s carrying. It would have been nice to have been told that from the beginning (it’s not like this is a surprise), but that is just part of the fun of surrogacy. Instead, Elle was offered a different blood test that required two separate blood draws, one of which couldn’t take place until much later in the pregnancy. While this test was not nearly as accurate as the first one, I received a phone call the day after we got back home from the gender ultrasound saying that Sweet Pea’s test results were normal. So often I feel as though this pregnancy is just too good to be true, and I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. My biggest fear had been that he would have some kind of genetic disease that would cause him to suffer in pain over a short lifetime and that we would have to say goodbye to him not long after birth. Hearing that that scenario is unlikely came as an incredible relief. If one of us was going to live a life with chronic pain, I am so glad that it is me and not him.

A few weeks after receiving those results, Elle & Sweet Pea went in for the anatomy scan to check on his growth and development. That was well over a month ago now, but it has taken me so long to write about it and post the pictures because it ended up taking place only four days after we lost my mother-in-law. At the time of the ultrasound we were 21+ weeks along, and I had initially considered pushing back the appointment due to the circumstances– the juxtaposition of having our growth & development ultrasound while also planning a funeral just felt too difficult. We were also scattered across the country since I was still in Florida helping my father-in-law while Kyle had been forced to get back to his classes. But, because Elle had been sick with what was likely whooping cough for a few weeks, I decided to stick with the plan so she could see the doctor (all is okay now, and thankfully, she is doing much better). That’s how I found myself Skype-ing with Elle while simultaneously FaceTiming with Kyle as he left the airport.

One of the lovely technicians held Elle’s tablet up throughout the entire appointment so I could watch the screen while I held my phone up to the computer so Kyle could see, and we all waited to hear the news on Sweet Pea’s development. Photo after photo was taken of his organs with everything appearing just as it should. Kyle’s dad and aunt, both of whom had never seen an ultrasound before, sat beside me while I proudly pointed out Sweet Pea’s fingers and toes. He weighed only a pound, but the amount of detail we could see in his tiny body was absolutely incredible, and I still can’t get over the fact that he is mine.

Somehow we are now down to just one last ultrasound before we get to hold Sweet Pea in our arms. Kyle and I have decided to travel to see it in person next month since we have missed out on so much of the pregnancy. Our appointment has been scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving, and Elle & her family have invited us to spend the holiday with them. After everything we’ve been through together this year, they have now become a permanent part of our family, and to reflect that, we’ve asked them if they would like to be called “aunt” and “uncle” by Sweet Pea. They have certainly more than earned those titles, and I love having the big sister I’ve always wanted in Elle.

I don’t keep the ultrasound photos on the home page of my blog because they can be painful for those going through infertility and fertility treatments to see. If you’d like to view them, click here: https://inpursuitofafamily.wordpress.com/ultrasound-photos

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18 thoughts on “The Growth & Development of Sweet Pea

  1. Thanks for informing me of some things I had no clue of, specifically the right for a carrier to terminate. Thats a lot to think about and Im glad I am aware. Also, how the testing protocol is different with a GC. I guess its like IVF in that there are so many unexpected things that “pop up” that u had no idea of prior. Im so glad your baby is healthy and that u will get to go to the next scan right before the holiday 💙

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    1. Yes, the carrier’s right to terminate was by far the hardest thing we had to come to terms with regarding surrogacy. Basically, you can have her sign a contract stating that she will not terminate but it isn’t really enforceable. Plus, by the time you would be able to get legal involved, it would probably be too late. In the early stages of surrogacy I spent days crying over this and laid awake at night feeling sick over it, and it was a huge part of why I did not want to go with a stranger. It seemed reckless to trust someone so much. When I talked to our agency about this concern, they thought it was a weird thing to fear (obviously that person had never gone through surrogacy from this side before!) and said that the kind of person who *wants* to do this for someone else is not the kind of person who is going to wake up one day and decide to terminate a pregnant. I wasn’t convinced, but when we met Elle, those fears started to melt away. She told me from the beginning that she would care for our child like she would her own, and it just felt right. She made it easy for us, and I do think we are very lucky to have her, but I also have come to realize now that the agency had a fair point and that it is unlikely that anyone would do what I was afraid of. Elle is part of surro support groups and overtime has told me stories of the other women and sent me snapshots of conversations, and the vast majority of them seem to be exactly the kind of woman you would want to entrust this job to. (In fact, they are just as afraid of being matched with a crazy intended mother!) Still, it is a risk you take with surrogacy, unfortunately.

      The test we were unable to do was called Harmony, but the Integrated Serum test was okay (not sure why exactly), though it is kind of an outdated test.

      I am planning on writing a series of posts on what surrogacy is really like through each stage, so that may help you find out some of those unexpected things. I’ve been wanting to start on this for months and I am determined to post the first one very soon! Hopefully that will help with any surprises, and also if you think of any questions you have, you know where to find me. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Hi! I just wanted to briefly share things from my side of things. I was a gestational carrier for amazing intended parents and gave birth to their little boy on July 17th.

      As a carrier, we absolutely do not want to ever have an abortion. Even when our own life would be at stake, it’s one of our biggest fears. I personally know several surrogates who’ve been asked by their intended parents to reduce multiples and/or have an abortion for various reasons. They complied with these wishes because they knew it wasn’t their child or choice to make for another family. While they did as asked, it was heart breaking to them. Even though it’s not our child, it’s still our body and we still grieve for the loss of the life we worked so hard to help bring into existence.

      Please, please know, that should you use an apprioriate surrogate (one who’s been properly screened emotionally and psychology) the very last thing she would ever want to do is abort your child. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Awh! Thank you and you’re absolutely welcome. I’ve really appreciated and learned so much from seeing things through the eyes intended parents and those struggling to conceive on their own.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy hearing your story and the positive attitude. Know you both must be getting so excited. Keeping you both in our prayers. Blessings!

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  3. I agree with you and am so thankful for each of these milestones in your lives. You are a precious family and we are praying each step of the way. Amen, thank you Jesus.

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      1. That’s very exciting!! We’re due April 16th. Nice to meet you too! You’re blog is great! Hard to find the IM’s stories. Love the detail and honesty – very good.
        Where are you and surrogate based? I haven’t read all your posts yet…

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      2. Thank you. 🙂 I look forward to reading yours as well! We live in the mid-atlantic US (east coast, really), and our surrogate lives in the south, about 14 hours away by car. But because of our contract (drawn up by the agency we went through), we aren’t allowed to give away any details about her on the blog, including where she lives, her real name, her photo, or even her first initial! It’s kind of crazy. Only a few of our family members know her actual name, and that is because we told them before we realized all of the rules. I am hoping that once the process is over and the baby is home with us, we can at least post a picture or something. It seems strange to be so secretive. I did see that it looks like you guys didn’t go through an agency, and I’m definitely interested in learning more about that route. We’ve found that it is tough at times to have a middle-man.

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      3. Oh, and I don’t know if you are following Arwen, but she is an IM as well (her sister in law is carrying), and her little girl is going to arrive any day now! It was really helpful for me to read her journey ahead of us since I don’t know anyone else who has been through surrogacy, though it is a little different since they’re based in the UK and the laws are different there. Here is a link to her blog if you’re interested: https://mymrkhandhostsurrogacy.wordpress.com/

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